Will Unwound #835: “Did You Forget Something?”August 15, 2013
Congratulations, Unwinders, the Tavern was rocking all day yesterday. It may have taken you 834 attempts but you finally achieved a level of conversation that even George Bernard Shaw (thanks, Mick) would be proud of. You mastered the art of the creative oxymoron. You were
cutting incisive but informative; argumentative but civil; and most of all visionary but realistic in your assessment of the once and future role of the librarian.
These are the last two functional areas where the librarian can still flourish without becoming a slave to machines – the last refuges of the liberal arts graduate, if you will. I was going to add a third area – cataloging, but the crystalline principles of Gorman and Berman have all but been forgotten in the rush to plunge into the warm waters of RDA.
In ruminating on the golden age of the librarian, one image is prominent in my mind: Sandy Berman typing madly away on his manual typewriter. Of course even he is trumped by the redoubtable Gertrude Mustard Strong and her fountain pen filling catalog cards with the fancy flourishes of “library hand.” Yes, newbies, I go back a few years.
Just as my threnody to the golden age of the librarian was putting you all in a somber state of mourning, I looked into the internet and found a ray of sunshine from a newbie of all things. How utterly ironic!
First of all an explanation: I course (curse?) through the internet from time to time to find another tavern to hang out in. It’s not that I don’t adore all of you but when the buzz in here gets strong and true (like yesterday) I like to leave you dudes and dudesses to your own devices. So I have my little hang outs. Let’s see…there’s Bring Your Noise...there’s The Annoyed Librarian…and really that’s about it. Too many library blogs are just exercises in self promotion (I’M A MOVER AND SHAKER!); attempts at
begging fundraising (JOIN MY KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN AND YOU WILL GET MY BORING SELF PUBLISHED BOOK FOR FREE); and photographic displays of narcissism (FOLLOW MY DAILY SELF PORTRAIT!).
Late last night however I happened randomly upon a library blog that represents one glimmer of hope that the golden age of the librarian is not completely tarnished. This ray of glitter comes at the website Shelver’s Cove. You’re not going to believe this but the librarian who writes this blog focuses on the big classics (Melville, James, Goethe, Euripedes, Brecht, Gogol, Solzhenitsyn) as well as the little classics (Steinbeck, Christie, Hammett, Tolkien, Rice). He even gets into my favorite subject of all – religion – with a very insightful review of Max Weber’s classic The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.
The blogger’s name is Michael Rodriguez, and he writes clearly, directly, and intelligently. For a liberal arts guy like me it doesn’t get any better than Shelver’s Cove.